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On the Inside

 

Several years back, my friend John told me a quote by Lyndon Johnson, who spoke of J. Edgar Hoover. Johnson said, "It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." It's a memorable quote, and has stuck with me ever since.

A few weeks back, I bought an issue of Scientific American Mind, the main article of which was that leadership is most effective when the group perceives that the leader is part of the group.

And then two weeks ago, I attended a work-sponsored workshop on Leadership that featured John Maxwell's book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

I'm not much for "fate" and I don't believe that God steers our life, but I do believe that as we're ready to notice things, we do. I call this manna. Food on the ground that's there for the eating if we notice it and we're hungry. I'm noticing leadership lately, and there's food for me to eat, so I'm digesting.

Most of my career has been either starting or running my own company, or it has been working as a consultant. My mindset has almost always been that of the outsider. In the nest, but not of the nest.

I think in any group of which I become a part, I'm noted for my leadership abilities. I'm somewhat charismatic, I'm strong in my opinion and insightful enough to have a point usually worth hearing, and I trailblaze pretty well.

But I fear that I handicap myself completely because I remain aloof and stand there as the guy not totally sold on being in the group. Being in the group, with both feet immersed and not straddling a fence, gives me skin in the game. It shows that I'm committed.

Tamara and I watched Jerry Maguire the other night, which remains a really great movie and got better with this, my second viewing of it.

In it, Jerry talks to Rod and gets straight with him and asks, "Are we really friends?" to which Rod replies, "Why not?"

Jerry: Well, friends can tell each other anything, right? If we have our "friends" hats on...

Rod, warily: I think so.

Jerry: Alright. Here's why you don't have your ten million dollars yet. You are a paycheck player. You play with your head. Not your heart. In your personal life? (Jerry points to Rod's chest) Heart. But when you get on the field - (Jerry's finger rises to Rod's head) - you're a businessman. It's wide-angle lenses and who fucked you over and who owes you for it. That's not what inspires people.

Manna. Nobody leads from the cheap seats. There is no phoning it in. If my goal is to influence and inspire, then it's all heart from the middle of the group, fully invested and anchored in.

I've never really thought about leadership. I just kind of took it for granted, as though it were some magical, innate quality about a person. But it, like anything else, takes work and polish. And buy in.

I know why I've acted as I have, and I won't go into it here. But I will say that the best decision of my life, by far, was to marry my wife, the most passionate and invested creature who walks God's green earth. Tamara leads by example. I love that about her.

Occasionally, I feel something trying to work it's way out, and it takes me a bit to work it through and come to terms with it so that I know it. This was one of those things. I'm going to spend more time learning about leadership. I'm an ideas-into-action guy, and the only way to make that happen is to become a stronger leader with trusted influence. I had a dream about this last night, hearkening back to a time in my past when I was trusted with something and succeeded halfway. I accomplished the goal, but shot myself in the foot in the process. That woke me up and had me staying up for a couple of hours to wrestle with it.

Amazing, life is.

 


by Brett Rogers, 9/23/2007 6:31:56 PM
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